Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has acquired a 39-per-cent interest in Sportradar, a sports data provider that counts basketball legend Michael Jordan, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Ted Leonsis, owner of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, as investors.
CPPIB did not give a price tag for the deal, saying only that its purchase places Sportradar’s enterprise value – equity plus debt – at US$2.4-billion. It bought the interest from Stockholm-based private equity firm EQT Partners as well as other minority holders.
Sportradar, based in Switzerland, provides data and video content to international bookmakers, media companies and sports leagues. It’s a partner to the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, NASCAR and Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
CPPIB said the deal fits with other data and technology businesses in which it has invested, such as software engineering firm GlobalLogic Inc. and data integration provider Informatica Corp. The deal comes amid surging demand for game data from legal betting firms around the world, including in the United States after a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting.
“This investment is entirely consistent with our strategy of investing in long-term growth trends, specifically mobile enablement and digital enablement and consumption,” Ryan Selwood, managing director and head of direct private equity for CPPIB, said in an interview.
In May, the top U.S. court struck down a federal law prohibiting gambling on individual sporting events. The decision opened up opportunities for the sector that could be larger than the estimated US$3.5-billion in previous illegal sports gambling each year. Shares in U.S. casino companies soared after the decision.
Mr. Leonsis, who also owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, told Bloomberg that revenue from wagering could eventually exceed the money that teams rake in from TV and other media platforms.
Sportradar provides the data and media content that feeds the betting demand, he wrote in an an article for Revolution Growth, his investment vehicle. Mr. Jordan, majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, and Mr. Cuban teamed up with Mr. Leonsis, investing US$4-million in Sportradar in 2015.
“As millennials and Gen Z continue to embrace the second screen, it’s not hard to imagine in the near future fans on their devices analyzing data, placing bets and communicating with each other in real time during games,” Mr. Leonsis wrote. “Legalized sports betting will only bring fans closer to the game, ramping up the action in each minute and creating more intensity.”
Besides providing data for online betting and media companies, Sportradar also monitors unusual betting patterns and other signals around games, and sends the information to watchdogs. The company said its data have helped global authorities mete out hundreds of sanctions.
“This is really an example of a business that’s very well positioned to grow relative to current trends, including rising fan engagement with data, opening of new markets for the company and general increased spending on digital content,” Mr. Selwood said.
The company’s founder and chief executive officer Carsten Koerl will remain an owner after the deal. Silicon Valley growth equity firm TGV Partners has also invested an undisclosed sum.
In addition, EQT, which first invested in the company in 2012, said it plans to put some of the proceeds from the sale back into Sportradar and maintain a minority interest.
The companies said they expect the deal to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.